Never Let Me Go
When she wakes up, she takes a moment to take in her surroundings. She’s in a hospital room. She’s in a surprisingly comfortable bed. She feels well-rested, for the first time in a long time. She feels a little dizzy, most likely from the drugs. Her stomach growls at her. She’s never been this hungry in her life.
A machine next to her bed beeps at her, peacefully, telling her that her heart is beating. The air that fills her lungs tastes clean, like chemicals. There’s a huge window beyond the heart machine. There’s no lights on in the hall outside it. There’s no lights on in her room.
So it’s true. She’s alive.
“Annie?” A movement in the corner. She reaches out for a weapon, but there’s nothing around her. She sees the IV bag, the medicine dripping down a long tube and into the crook of her elbow. That could do some damage. She starts to pull the needle from her arm, but strong hands stop her. She looks up, ready to fight this person off, but then relaxes.
“Finnick,” she breathes.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs. “I shouldn’t have scared you—“
“No, it’s okay. You just startled me, and I’m still—“
“Half in the Arena,” he finishes. She nods. “I’m glad you’re awake.”
He kisses her on the forehead and starts to walk back to the corner.
“Wait,” Annie says, unsure of where she’s even going with this. He pauses. “Could you… Sit with me for awhile?”
She moves over in the little bed so he can sit next to her. To her surprise, he actually does.
“Do you need anything else? Water? Food? Another blanket?”
“No,” she says. I just want to sit with you. She takes his hand, just to hold it.
“What’s wrong?” he murmurs.
“I feel like I’m still there.”
“I know that,” she snaps. A short silence. “Sorry.”
“I’m a lot calmer now,” she continues. “But my back muscles are pulling together, like there’s someone right behind me. I’m still expecting this to be a trick.”
He shifts so he’s lying next to her.
“I would tell you it’s not, but that won’t really help, will it?”
She can feel his body pressed against hers. He’s warm and solid. Something about him makes her feel better.
“I don’t know,” she tells him. “I think I trust you.”
“Well, that’s good to know.”
“I dreamt about you,” she blurts. The whole dream rushes back into her mind, triggered by his laugh or his closeness. She isn’t quite sure. “It was awful. You were in there with me instead of Sebastian.” Her stomach clenches. “It was you who… You… Holiday, she….”
Annie starts to cry. Finnick shifts himself again, moving an arm under her to pull her into his chest.
“It was just a dream,” he tells her, softly, murmuring into her hair.
“It felt real.”
She looks up, into his eyes. His eyebrows are, so slightly, raised in concern. A small line has appeared between them.
“You’re here, now,” she says. He nods. “And so am I.”
“And so are you,” he echoes.
“This is real. We’re definitely both real.”
“We’re definitely real, Annie.”
“And you won’t… leave me… like that?”
He pulls her closer and kisses her hair.
“Never,” he murmurs.
They stare at each other for a moment. Annie wants to kiss him again. She wants to do more than that. This isn’t a very safe place, though. Plus, last time, he pushed her away. She doesn’t want him to leave her. He’s so warm. She curls more into him, away from his face, but doesn’t relax.
“Tell me what else is real,” she mutters. She can feel him running a hand through her hair, untangling it with his fingers.
“Well, for starters, you never brush your hair,” he says with a laugh. “Um, we met during training at your school. You punched me and then cried about it.”
This time, she laughs.
“That’s right, I did. I almost forgot about that.”
He pulls apart a few more tangles.
“We swim together,” he says. “In the ocean. You love the ocean more than anything.”
She tries to imagine the ocean, but it turns into a wall of water. It crashes through everything, through trees and buildings, until it hits her. She can feel the water fill her mouth and nose. Above it all, she hears that noise. That horrible, high-pitched noise that buries itself in through her ears. She tries to slap her hands over her ears, but Finnick’s limbs are in her way. She tries to push him away, but she feels his arms get tighter around her. Then his forehead is pressed to hers, their noses brushing together.
“Hey,” he whispers, stroking her back. “Hey, I’m sorry. You’re safe. You’re with me. We’re in a hospital and we’re safe. You’re out, and you’ll never have to go back in. Okay? Annie?”
Annie. He never called her that before. It was Cresta, always Cresta. She wonders what changed. That’s a question for another time, though. She pushes herself, just a little, away from him so she can look into his eyes again.
“You’re okay, Annie,” he murmurs. “You’re safe. That’s real.”
She lays her hands against his chest. They don’t talk for awhile. She can feel him breathing. She can feel his heart beating.
“Finnick?” she whispers.
“What else is real?”
He pulls her back into his chest and buries his face in her hair.
“You are, without a doubt, the kindest, bravest, funniest, most aggravating person I know.”
He kisses the top of her head.
Her voice breaks when she whispers, “What else?”
“I’m so beyond relieved you’re alive, Annie,” he says. She realizes he’s crying. So is she. “If anyone deserves to be alive, it’s you.”
That’s not true. That’s not true at all. Sebastian deserves to be alive. And Hera. And everyone else. She should be dead now, anyway. If the Capitol hadn’t ruined her plan, if they hadn’t blown up the dam before she could get to it, she would be. They would’ve scraped her body off the rocks and sent it home in a wooden box.
This doesn’t mean she can’t try again at home, though. There are a thousand ways she could kill herself now. There are knives, and ropes, and all sorts of things she’ll have access to. Or, if she wants to make it look like an accident, she could go to the cliffs, she could jump off and….
She looks up at Finnick. She can’t see his eyes from this angle, but she doesn’t really need to. She lays her head back on his chest and wiggles her arms to hug him around the waist.
“That day when I saved you?” she begins. “You weren’t cliff-diving, were you?”
His body goes stiff. He stops moving except for a few shallow breaths.
“You were trying to kill yourself.” It’s not a question. He shifts uncomfortably, fitting himself with her a little better.
She hugs him tighter. For a long time, they only hold each other. She can hear his breathing getting slower, but she knows he’s not asleep.
“I get that now,” she whispers.